Mars mission chief Omran Sharaf to lead UAE's international diplomacy on advanced science

He has also been appointed as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs to handle the Advanced Science and Technology portfolio

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The man who led the UAE’s mission to Mars has been appointed as a member of the UAE Diplomatic and Consular Corps with the rank of ambassador.

Omran Sharaf, 38, has also been appointed as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation to handle the advanced science and technology portfolio.

President Sheikh Mohamed issued a federal decree appointing Mr Sharaf to the positions on Wednesday.

He will report directly to Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.

Mr Sharaf's new roles are aimed at helping the Emirates to form strategic new partnerships in science and technology-related fields.

Mr Sharaf earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia in 2005 and a postgraduate degree in science and technology policy from South Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in 2013.

He also won the Pride of the Emirates medal, which is part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Government Excellence Award.

Mr Sharaf is best known for his work as project director of the Emirates Mars Mission, having led a team of engineers and scientists since 2014 to make the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission a success.

The Mars mission, which sent the Hope spacecraft to Mars last year, was a turning point for the UAE’s space programme and inspired many Emiratis to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths-related fields.

Earlier this year, Mr Sharaf was elected by the UAE to chair the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Sheikh Mohamed said at the time that he was proud of Mr Sharaf and congratulated him on being elected.

“The UAE continues to make notable contributions to the space sector and we wish Omran every success in his new role,” he said.

Mr Sharaf started working with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in 2006, when it was called the Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

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Updated: September 07, 2022, 2:33 PM